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Look before You Leap, Read before You Tweet

man leaping forwardThese days, everybody’s on Twitter. I’m on it. You’re on it. This popular social network draws over 140 million active users who are making 340 million Tweets every day, which is an enormous scope of information when you think about it. What does this mean for you? In such a jam-packed sea of information, how can you be someone worth following? What are the keys to becoming a truly valuable source of information on the world’s most demanding news aggregation site?

To answer those questions, here are five quick tips for using Twitter well:

1. Don’t Be Overly Self-Promotional

While it may seem strange to begin a list of Twitter tips with advice on what not to do, this first point is important. If the only news you’re posting on Twitter is news about your own company, you’ll never be a valuable information source—you’re just a marketing mouthpiece. Most experts advice an 80/20 rule, whereby most of your Tweets are about something other than promoting your business; others favor a 50/50 approach. In either case, however, be sure to be stretching your Tweets beyond your immediate business and its sales.

2. Focus on Your Niche

Posting useful info is the best way to retain followers. To offer the most relevant information to your audience, post links to articles, videos, blog posts, etc., that relate to your field. If you’re a dental office known for its quality customer service, you might be posting links to information that would help your patients: studies, stories, new statistics, etc. If you’re a pediatric medical practice, your links might focus on info useful for parents and caregivers. Remember who you are and who your audience is, and let that guide your Tweets.

3. Stay on Top of Industry News

One of the best ways to keep finding interesting information and news to share on Twitter is to be reading them yourself. Fill your Google Reader with websites and blogs related to your industry. Subscribe to newsletters relevant to your field. Check out newspapers and magazines. When you find something that would be interesting to your audience, you’ve found something worth sharing.

4. Provide Commentary

When you link to articles and posts, don’t simply state what they are; provide commentary. When you link to a New York Times article about the importance of podiatry to overall health, add your thoughts before the link. When you recommend a blog post recounting a patient’s experience at your office, say something about being glad to serve them. This helps your followers decide whether or not to click through.

5. Post Regularly

The more you’re actively using Twitter in a helpful way, the more of a resource you become. Post regularly (i.e., daily) in order to stay in the eyes of followers. If that idea seems daunting, plan ahead by scheduling a few minutes every morning or afternoon when you’ll always Tweet. Another idea is to use a scheduling-Tweets service like Timely, allowing you to post even when you’re away.

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